JANUARY 26, 1943
WASHINGTON, Monday—The news reached me yesterday of the death of Mr. Alexander Woollcott. He has known, and all of his friends have for many months, that this threat hung over him; but he wanted to work and he did. These last few months, I think, he did as good work as at any time in his life, and was happy doing it.
I spent an hour with him not long ago in his Gotham Hotel workroom. He sat and talked over the last war and this one, our mistakes in between, what we must do to obviate their repetition and what he, himself, was trying to do. He talked of his friends, of the "Anthology of American Literature," which he had done with an eye to providing the boys in the service with something they would like to have with them wherever they were. This book will be out, I believe, in February, and I know the choices will be such that they will meet a variety of literary tastes. It will be a book one can live with for many days.
Life with Alexander Woollcott gone will lose some of its flavor. He had agreed to come back and spend a little time with us within the next few weeks. In spite of his foibles and eccentricities, or perhaps because of them, he was an enchanting guest. He told stories so well, he had known so many people and had an unending fund of material for conversation.
He loved to be the center of the group, and yet many of his younger friends, of whom he had a host, will attest to the fact that on occasion he could listen. He gave their problems real thought and, when asked, gave advice to the best of his ability. If they failed to take it, he never held it against them. I am glad to have the memory of his friendship, though I only came to know him well a few years ago. I shall miss him. His own country has lost a patriot and the world a good citizen.
Yesterday we enjoyed having the whole cast of Maxwell Anderson's "Eve of St. Mark" give the play here at tea. Mr. and Mrs. Anderson, and Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Rice were with them. We had them come in the afternoon instead of the evening, as we usually do, because we felt that having to walk here after the play would make it very difficult for them.
I had seen the play in New York City, so only attended last night for a short time. Quite frankly, they act too well. The whole play is still too real to me. It wrongs the heart and makes one suffer, and I only hope it makes us also firmer in our determination that the things which we see on that stage will never again be realities.